There are tens of millions of forcibly displaced people worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations. Such people, also termed as ‘persons-of-concern’, include refugees, internally displaced people, returnees, stateless persons and others of concern.

By the end of 2017, the population of ‘persons-of-concern’ were some 71.4 million around the world, as per the data maintained by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNHCR, established by the UN General Assembly in 1950 is mandated to lead and coordinate international action for the worldwide protection of refugees and the resolution of refugee problems.

Among 65.6 million ‘persons-of-concern’ in 2016, there were nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18, as per the UNHCR. The number of refugees have increased with the increase in the number of the people of concern by 5.4 percent.

In a short span of just few weeks in 2017, more than 600,000 people (Rohingya) from Myanmar fled to Bangladesh. This was the most rapid overflow ever since the massive refugee emergencies of the 1990s, as per the UNHCR’s Global Report 2017. Likewise, the persons-of-concern were displaced last year fleeing war, violence and persecution in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, South Sudan and Syria among other countries.

The global trend shows that the state violence, human rights violations, conflict, disaster and risks on human lives due to various circumstances are on rise and consequently forcing thousands of people every day to flee their homes in search of safety and protection. This requires more capacity to ensure their safety and safeguard their rights.

Asides from the limited capacity in safeguarding their rights, the search for safety has become more dangerous, as per the Global Appeal 2018-2019 issued by the UNHCR.

Recently, some of the states, which had, to somewhat, been impacted by refugee arrivals have closed their borders.  The premature return of the refugees equally affects their sustainable safety. Similarly, the journeys in search of safety are full of risks, comprising life-threatening violence and exploitation, detention and torture. The weak international cooperation have also eroded protection for those forced to flee.

As the global community is marking the 18th World Refugee Day today (June 20), the states and the stakeholders should come forward to addressing the aforementioned challenges consisting limited capacity and risky search for safety for the growing population of ‘persons-of-concern’. On this international day, the world needs to give a message – the world supports and stands with refugees.

Since 2001, the world has been observing the World Refugee Day after the UN General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution on December 3, 2000 to mark the June 20 as the World Refugee Day.

On the 18th World Refugee Day,  the UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for ‘Solidarity, Compassion and Action’ 

According to him:

A person was displaced every two seconds during 2017.

“On World Refugee Day, we must all think about what more we can we do to help.”  The answer, he added, “begins with unity and solidarity.

Watch the UN Secretary General’s Message on the World Refugee Day 2018.

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